2007 San Joaquin Valley Grape Symposium a Resounding Success

Presenters at the 2007 San Joaquin Valley Grape Symposium from left to right are: Jim Wolpert, Matthew Fidelibus, Andrew Waterhouse, Jim Lapsley, Paul Verdegaal, Becky Westerdahl, George Leavitt, Steven Vasquez, and Pete Christensen.

Photo feature presenters at the 2007 San Joaquin Valley Grape Symposium (from left to right): Jim Wolpert, Matthew Fidelibus, Andrew Waterhouse, Jim Lapsley, Paul Verdegaal, Becky Westerdahl, George Leavitt, Steven Vasquez, and Pete Christensen.

The San Joaquin Valley Grape Symposium, hosted by UC Cooperative Extension, the San Joaquin Valley Viticulture Technical Group, and Central California Winegrowers provided an impressive program presenting on topics of interest to local grape growers and allied industry. Steven Vasquez, UC Cooperative Extension Farm Advisor for Fresno County, organized the meeting and introduced the Welcome Speaker, Dr. Andrew Waterhouse, interim chair of the Department of Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis. Professor Waterhouse discussed the Department's priorities and plans for the near future. He spoke of close collaboration with farm advisors on defining challenges for San Joaquin Valley viticulture, and identifying current campus and county programs to address them. As an example of the collaboration between the campus faculty and the county advisors, Waterhouse spoke about the statewide meetings being organized that will deliver recent research findings tailored to California’s diverse grape growing regions. Local grape industries will benefit from the “extension road shows”, because research will be highlighted through industry examples.

The morning continued with presentations by farm advisors and faculty focusing on topics of interest to San Joaquin Valley winegrape growers. George Leavitt, recently retired farm advisor for Madera County, presented an update on grapevine canker diseases, with recommendations on diagnosis and management. Matthew Fidelibus, Viticulture and Enology CE Specialist, presented results from a large experiment conducted at the Kearney Agricultural Center. Fidelibus gave information on clonal performance and potential benefits of planting Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Zinfandel clones in the San Joaquin Valley. Paul Verdegaal, UC Farm Advisor for San Joaquin County, discussed results from his extended maturation (hang-time) research. Comparing Syrah, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon, he identified how seasonal affects, crop load, and vine balance play a role in fruit maturity and quality. He also mentioned how “good communication” between grower and winery is key to producing fruit quality beneficial to both parties. Becky Westerdahl, UC Davis Nematology CE Specialist, discussed nematode management in vineyards, giving extremely detailed information as how to best assess and treat nematode problems. Westerdahl outlined the different methods of identifying nematode pests and how growers should use the information found in lab reports from soils they have submitted. Concluding the program was Jim Lapsley, Adjunct Associate Professor at UC Davis Viticulture & Enology, who presented a possible scenario for growers getting into a family winemaking business. Lapsley covered the likely costs and possible income streams associated with such an endeavor. San Joaquin Valley grape growers and industry personnel took advantage of breaks and lunch to further discuss topics presented. The meeting concluded with Vasquez thanking the speakers for their exceptionally relevant presentations and a lunch that allowed for further discussions between growers and presenters. Vasquez stated, “Participants commented on how the information presented at the 2007 SJV Grape Symposium was timely and how UC researchers continue to conduct research relevant to California grape grower’s primary interests-improved quality and increased profits.”